You know that death came a knockin’ on my front door
Singin’ come on sister, ain’t you ready to go
So I stooped down, buckled my shoes
And I move on down by the Jordan stream
And then I shout “Hallelujah, done, done my duty, got on my travelin’ shoes

the duhks – death came a knockin’

last week, christy and i headed up the interstate to visit dear friends and hear awesome music.  i know:  big stretch, twist our arms, etc.  though i don’t see much of them during the school year, i love my teacher friend’s summertime ability to jet off at a moment’s notice and spend the better part of a monday in our pajamas.

paige, adam and their four chillins left charlotte almost a year ago and it takes nary a shake of the hat (or mention of their fabulous baked goods) to result in a trip.  now, if that shake happens to be of the tambourine of the duhks, one of all of our favorite bands, the car basically starts itself.  and the homemade brown sugar cookies are truly the sweetness on top.

our friends are a part of a new church plant in raleigh (midtown community church) led by  another family we miss a bunch, linz and kara.  we got there in time to go to their sunday afternoon study.  i always enjoy seeing friends ‘real lives’ when i visit; having pictures of where they live helps me pray for them better.

after church meetin’, a quick burrito and off to the show.

windows down, we drove by the venue and the band was getting out of their bus.  christy, being the friendly and cheerful gal she is, shouted hi while waving her chapstick at them.  she didn’t realise this was slightly uncool until oh, about mid wave.  we had a great laugh at the stoplight.

the show was fantastic.  you can read my full review HERE at Consequence of Sound.

this is what it sounded like:


this photo of the fiddler and drummer is a complete screw up on many levels but i freaking love it.  and since i love it, i’m going to name it.  just haven’t figured out  what yet…

more shots:



on the way home, splayed in the middle of the sidewalk was this fella:


we are uncertain to the cause of his demise, but the huge transformer on the pole above was looking quite suspect.

my goal on monday was to stay in my pajamas with the kiddos until noon.  i am proud to report i accomplished this goal.  and ate another (x2) homemade brown sugar cookie to reward myself.  we ate pancakes, played uno, read books, all the good stuff.  then we ventured out on the greenway, anchored by littlest taite’s chunk-a-liscious thighs and with a pretty good ratio (1.33 kids per adult).


it was H-O-double-T.  but we had a great walk/scooter adventure.  there was some wilting, but we all made it back just in the nick of time to the air conditioning and lunch.

i’m thankful to have “effortless friends”… and i’m not implying friendship is ever without effort.  but people who make being friends with them relaxing, refreshing and life-giving.  christy, paige, adam and their brood are just that for me- the kind of people who can easily (and non-uncooly) chat up the fiddle player after a show, hang with in your pjs til noon and eat homemade cookies for breakfast.  these were a happy 24 hours!


misc. spring


various circumstances captured on digital chipage.

femme fest in charlotte:

mieka pauley


femme fest

lots of evenings at the u.s. national white water center:

white water center at night

wwc at night 2

wwc sunset

the tillman chronicles:




bela fleck and toumani diabate concert:



band of horses concert:





“True law is right reason in agreement with nature;

it summons to duty by its commands,

and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions.”


i am puzzled.

i am going through my stack of mail from the past week (someone please fire my admin) and came across something from Fidelity, a company that serves as a glorified mattress of sorts for some savings of mine.

the notice is a voting proxy for shareholders on two items:

1)  board members.  joe schmoes.  i don’t know them.  maybe i should care, but i don’t.

2)  this matter:  “Shareholder proposal for Fidelity Freedom 2010 Fund [and a list of 10 other funds] concerning procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that, in the judgment of the Board, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity.

and the kicker?  the Board of Trustees recommends a vote AGAINST #2.

i don’t know about you, but this smells like blood diamonds to me…

i didn’t really know what to do here.  so i just read more specifically on the issue.  here’s the skinny:

  1. The shareholder proposal:  “Ordinary individuals, through their investments in Fidelity, may inadvertently invest in companies funding genocide because of investment decisions made on their behalf by Fidelity. With no policy to prevent these problem investments, Fidelity may at any time increase its holdings or involve new funds in such problem investments.We believe that this problem is not merely theoretical, since Fidelity was one of the largest holders of PetroChina, which, through its closely related parent, China National Petroleum Company, is providing funding that the Government of Sudan uses to conduct genocide in Darfur.We believe that in the face of the most extreme human rights crises investors share responsibility to act, individually and collectively, in addition to the role and responsibility of governments….We see no compelling reason to invest in companies that fund genocide.We believe there are ample competitive alternatives and flexibility of investment choices, even with index funds. As noted by Gary Brinson’s classic study, investment returns are affected much more by asset allocation than by individual security selections, so avoiding a small number of problem companies need not result in any significant effect on performance.
  2. The Board’s response:  “The Fidelity Funds Board of Trustees recommends that you vote AGAINST this proposal….The Fidelity Funds Board of Trustees recognizes and respects that investors, including those investing in this Fund, have other investment opportunities open to them should they wish to avoid investments in certain companies or countries.   Shareholders of the Fund, however, have chosen to invest in this Fund based on its specific stated investment policies. If adopted, this proposal would limit investments by the Fund that would be lawful under the laws of the United States. For this reason, the Board of Trustees recommends that you vote AGAINST this proposal.”

i just cast my vote FOR the proposal.

i might just be moving my cash soon.

i am no princess, but this is one pea under my mattress I would certainly lose sleep over.

true, we can’t always know or prevent how our decisions are linked and supplement the evil in this world.  when we do know though and are given a choice, we should exercise our right to chose justice and mercy for our fellow humans.  and we sleep well at night knowing our only hope for being blameless at the end of our days is the perfect obedience Christ secures for us.

“And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times,

and there will one master and ruler, that is, God, over us all,for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge.

Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst penalties, even if he escapes what is commonly called punishment . . .”


AT with dad


Memorial Day weekend, my dad and I set out on the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain.

This is kind of a misnomer… as the trail starts at the “Approach Trail” at Amicalola Falls State Park, 7 miles (and about 4k feet vertically) from Springer.

For the record, things I suggested Dad bring and his response:

  1. Trekking poles:  “They are for old people.  If I need one I will cut a walking stick.”
  2. Crocs:  “They are the ugliest shoes on the planet.  I will never wear those things.  I’ll keep my boots on in camp.”
  3. Camel back:  “Nah, I’ve got my canteen.”

I, not one to cut corners, wanted to do it right. so we started at the famous arch on the “Approach” trail.



Here’s a little trail know-how:  anytime you’re at a “Falls”, your mind should think:

First, “Yes!  I am going to get to see a waterfall.  yippee!”

and, secondly, “Then I am going to have to walk up a big $&% mountain.”

The first portion of the approach trail is 670-odd stair steps straight up a waterfall.  We were the only ones with backpacks on and about halfway up were scared we went the wrong way.  People in fanny packs and jean shorts are pulled over puffing on their inhalers… and here we are walking up with 30ish pound packs.  This isn’t your mama’s YMCA stair master.  We decided to keep going, because I surely didn’t want to have to walk up again if we were going the right way…

We get to the top of the stairs and are amazed to see:  a parking lot.  Where lots of hikers are unloading their gear.  Later, we found out most people do the stairs once then hike from there.  An initiation of sorts, which I’m glad to say we did.

We made it to the top of Springer Mountain, where just a few hours before a 72 year old woman completed her thru-hike of the trail.  She chipped away at the AT over 20 years.  (At this point, I started working the math on the portions I have done and begin devising a plan to do the same…)



On the trail there are lots of decisions.  It isn’t as simple as just walking 10 miles a day.  You have to walk to a place to camp, namely with water.  That means you often have to chose between a wimpy 7 mile walk and a butt kicking 14 mile walk.  There is no in-between.

The first night we stayed at Springer Mountain Shelter.  There were a few campers, but we had the shelter to ourselves.  Most people continued on about 1.5 miles to the next shelter, mostly to reduce the next day’s trek over 7 mountains to a 13 mile butt-kick….they were smart.

Here’s us at the Springer Mtn shelter:



Oh one other funny thing happened there.  When I was getting water, two college guys came from West Georgia came through camp.  Just graduated, so they were about 22.  Here’s our conversation:

me: “Hey guys, how are ya?”

them:  “Good, glad to see water.”

me:  “Yes, after that walk up it is!  Y’all start at the falls?”

them:  “Yes ma’am….”

Stop that train!!  I got ma’am’ed.  Over and over again.  By people born in the same decade as me.  I keep telling myself they were just polite country boys…

At dinner I checked in with dad on the gear suggestions from earlier and asked if he’d use them now:

  1. Trekking poles?  Yep.
  2. Crocs?  Yep.
  3. Camel back?  Yep.

Point for the daughter.


The next day we set out and I knew we were going to have to do a quick 7 or a grueling 14.

The first 7 was quick, and we made it to Hawk Mountain Shelter.  The shelter was occupied by a family from Ellijay (pronounced ELLL-hi-jaaay).  For this story’s sake, we’ll call them the Hell-i-jay-ians.  These folks were there for the holiday weekend and spared no luxury:  tailgating chairs, cigs, spam, cheetos, crank radios, electronic gaming devices, their two dogs whom they fed on the ground right outside the shelter.  Mind you, this time of year the bears are waking up with empty stomachs to empty berry bushes.  Geniuses, these Hellijayians.  And extreme offenders to every known trail etiquette rule.

It was only 1 PM and the next water was 6.5 miles away, shelter 7.5.  Dad was up for staying or going.  I decided we should push through to at least the water, maybe the shelter.  I wasn’t up for witnessing a dog be attacked by a bear trying to get to spam.

The next 6.5 miles were grueling, over 6 or more peaks.  We came to loathe the term “gap” because it really means  “there is a big @$$ hill on the other side you have to walk up now”.  We met some characters along a logging road and took a bit of an “elevation cut”.  Not a short-cut.  An elevation cut.  We walked around a peak and picked up the trail again.

We got to water and couldn’t walk another step.  Set up camp.  Ate dinner and it started to rain.  It rained and rained and rained and rained all night.  Props to the REI tent that kept us completely dry!

The next day was dreary and wet, but we packed it up and hit the trail for Woody Gap.   The walk was wet, but nice.  The landscape changed to much taller trees with meadows.  Any vistas were shrouded in fog, but I always like a gray day and the mist provided lots of subdued, peaceful beauty:




and a newt:


We made it to Woody Gap and tried to reach mom, but she wasn’t answering her phone.  There were a group of dads and teenage sons there who offered to give us a ride back to my car…. under one condition:  that my mom was the same person as Dad’s wife, because they “weren’t trying to get shot”.  Hopefully you tracked with me on that one.  Ha!

Made it back to the house, where I was greeted by my Tillman, who is here chilling with his real mom, Jade.  It was a good time.  Walking in quiet woods all day is not a bad gig.  We’re going to tackle a few more days next year.


“miles to go

from me to you

from a town that gets old

to the city that’s new

this flame burns brighter

with every poem read

this bird flies higher

with a song up in her head”

-sarah jarosz-

i’m excited about a new gig i have writing for an on-line music publication:  Consequence of Sound.  Yeah, “publication” is fancy talk for a blog.  but they have real advertisers, staff and such and exciting things coming up… so we’ll go with publication.  as the world of print media sadly shrinks, things like CoS and other on-line mediums will likely strengthen.

how did i wind up here? well,  this is a branch off the “music club” vine where my friends and i get together and write album reviews…for fun.  maybe we’re nerds.  maybe we’re cool.  probably a bit of both.  what got me in the door was collaborating with luke (who already writes for them) on a local charlotte festival review.  props to luke for basically dragging me into and through this, because when they gave a 24 hour deadline for the first piece, i almost balked.  i like things on my time-line.  i don’t respond well to pushing.  but dragging, well, apparently that works.  sometimes.

i sent them some other writing samples, they ran the festival review and i was pretty excited to get my first “comment” from a stranger… then i read it.  reality check!  it was a total slam.  it’s a classic. go to “about”, click my name and check out my “archives” and you can read the femme fest article and the “comment”.

and my archives are, well, tori-spelling-shallow as of yet.  but some things i’m working on now include:

-Listen (a quick intro article about a band) on The Duhks

– Album review of Rhett Miller’s album released this week

– Concert review of Bela Fleck and Toumani Diabate (seeing them tomorrow)

All this is fun and getting my feet wet, but I’m most excited about what this means for me in England… festival and concert coverage galore.  The UK has a great appreciation for roots music and I really hope to be able to find some great local talent and share it with people here.  Not to mention to amazing festivals over there…

and the pay…. well, is not exactly dollar bills, but albums and press passes.

so, essentially i’m feeding my habit.  my addiction.  something that brings me great joy, now also challenge, as i require it to stretch my mind a bit.  i’m thankful for the ways the Lord has continually provided these multi-faceted adventures for me!

While babysitting one day last week I took requests for sidewalk drawings.

Kids are pretty simple.  They mostly draw shapes and things made from basic shapes:  lines = roads, train tracks, rivers, etc.

From me, they requested a dog, then a cow.  Here is the result:


and here is the commentary:

Kiddo:  Wow, Miss Jessica, that’s a really good dog!  Good job.

Me:  Thanks!  I’m glad you like it.

Kiddo:  I thought you were going to draw a cow too.

Me:  I did, it’s the other animal there on the left.

Kiddo:  Uhhh… no.  I don’t think so.  I see the animal but it’s not a cow.  Actually, I don’t know what it is, actually.  But it’s not a cow.


It’s hard to be a misunderstood artist.  Unless you already understand that your art stinks.  As I’ve known mine has for a long time.  The relics are strewn about my parent’s house:  a sawdust/glue penguin sculpture, clay high-top sneaker, a watercolor shipwreck scene… all gone terribly awry.  But able to bring laughter to anyone who I let look at them.

So, this is why I LOVE visual art.  I’ve seen a lot of beautiful images, figurative and literal,  in my life and they are forever trapped in my brain.  This is why I love when people can transfer them to a visual medium I connect with.  It fills the gap.

Here are some of my favorite local Charlotte artists:

Duy Huynh

Osiris Rain

Check them out.  Don’t let that chalk cow-dog-coon-cat be the last image in your mind after reading this!

Grown women have “coffee talk”.  Five year olds have “snack time talk”.  I often find the latter much more profound.

Many of you ask what I study in seminary, and I could post some 15+ page papers on various topics.  But, I’m going to try to keep it simple….and keep you awake.

Today’s Theology 101 lesson is on Heaven and brought to you by Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.  The kid’s names have been changed but this is a real conversation I overheard.


Johnny:  Jimmy, maybe in heaven we can live together.

Jimmy:  Yeah.  Heaven will be the best place ever.  We’ll have new bodies and a new life.  It will be awesome.

Johnny:  How about we have a garden with a fountain?!

Jimmy:  Yeah! We’ll drive around in our cars to our fountains.


“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more…  [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:1ff

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city…”  Revelation 22ff


“Heaven is, by definition, outside our experience, but all intelligible descriptions must be of things within our experience.  The scriptural picture of heaven is therefore just as symbolical as the picture which our desire, unaided, invents for itself . . .”

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

most of you reading know where i live.  you know my neighborhood is very important to me and that i’m fumbling my way through loving, serving, developing this diverse community. i keep a running list of quotes and situations, so i’ve decided to start a series where i share with you some of these things i hear.  some will make you laugh, some might make you cry.  here’s #1.  it’s monday and i went soft on you, don’t be afraid to continue…

Title:  Sir Mix A Lot

walking home from church one sunday, i pass two little boys who were outside riding a bike in their pajamas.  they are probably 4 and 6 years old.  yes, i said one bike.  and it wasn’t really a bike, but one of these things.  and right this second, i realise i honestly don’t know what they’re called except by their crude street name, so i’m just going to put a picture:


so, two kids, 4 and 6, riding this thing.  max speed 4 mph (i checked).  in their jammies.  cute.

walking by, i wave, smile chitter-chat “hey guys, you having fun today!?”

boy#1 pajama clad response:  “girl, you got a biiiiiiig butt!!!”

boy#2:  “HAHAHA, yeah you do!”

i now know my walk speed is faster than 4mph.  and cooties are still rampant among elementary school boys.